TGIF Replay: From 2018
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria.And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death.Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.””
(1 Kings 19:4–18 ESV)
My favorite character in the OT Scriptures has to be Elijah.
He was pious and sarcastic and called down fire.
My kind of guy.
He was also honest to God…he didn’t hold back on how he felt.
He also is the author of my current “life verse”.
“It is enough”.
The translation should be “I’ve had enough”.
In this passage, he’s done…he’s forgotten all of the exploits that God empowered him to do and he’s emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.
The government and the church are both corrupt and he feels all alone.
A lot of people don’t like him and some would do him harm.
He tried to be “better than his fathers” and he thinks he’s failed at that too.
When you’ve tapped all your wells dry, everything tastes like ash in your mouth.
The pious among us would chastise him for his self pity…they usually don’t attempt to do anything but commentary on others anyway…
What I want to do this morning is look at how God handled this exhausted child of His…so some of us with ash in our mouths can find refreshment as well.
First, I want you to note that God was with him, even though Elijah was too taken up with his stress to notice.
He’s with you and me, as well…
Second, God let him sleep.
There’s only one cure for any type of exhaustion…go and do likewise. The problems will still be there when you wake up.
Third, God fed him.
Seems basic…food and sleep…except for those who neglect both…
Fourth, God didn’t rush him.
“And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”
Elijah needed another nap and more food…it takes time to recover.
Give yourself that time…
Fifth, God understood how difficult the situation was.
“the journey is too great for you.”
It is for us at times too…
Sixth, God let Him vent.
Elijah needed to pour his frustrations and fears out on somebody…and God is the best somebody there is.
Tell Him where it hurts and what you’re mad about…He can handle it.
Seventh, God didn’t rebuke him.
When you’re poured out and worn out, God understands, even if the people you poured out for, don’t.
Eighth, only when Elijah was rested, fed, and had expressed all his angst did God begin to change his perspective.
It’s hard to hear God when all your systems are shutting down…take the time to heal.
Ninth, God was in the whisper, not the noise.
It’s almost impossible to hear God when the noise inside and outside your head is so loud.
You’ll hear Him when you separate out from it and care for yourself.
Tenth and finally, God assured Elijah that he wasn’t alone.
Not only was God with him, but there was a remnant of family that loved God and each other…and that is true to this day.
You’re not alone and God isn’t done with you…now go get some rest and get ready for the rest of the journey.
Make your own application…
Man, did I ever need to read this one again! Thank you, Michael!
I became a Christian in an environment where you ” burned out for God.” It became exhausting. I know there will be periods of intense ministry, but when that’s the norm, and more busy work is invented so you look like your “ministering”-RUN! I eventually did, and Elijah’s story was one of the motivators.
In my experience, that “ministering” almost always involved doing something at the church building.
In my case it was “forced fellowshipping” (otherwise known as “mandatory fun.”). We would all be exhausted at this ministry I worked for, and we would be called out at 8 am on a Saturday morning to go out and sit under a tree and sing worship songs. I put my foot down,. I was raising my sister’s kids due to a really bad family situation, and had just relocated from overseas. It wasn’t required (although it kept me in good graces with my supervisor), and I needed a day off. Church was like work, too, since we all needed to support-raise and have some participation in a local church.
Mandatory fun sounds like an absolute nightmare.
I found it just led to grumpiness and resentment, at least on my part. It was especially tough because some of the staff shared living quarters, so you never had a break.
I thought for years that the phrase “well done thou good and faithful servant” meant how I like my steak cooked. Or, as Linn said “burned out”
I love being involved in ministry, and I know there are times that can be intense. But, keeping that pace all the time, with no letup, is what drives many people away or causes illness (physical or mental). My current church keeps an eye on our staff to make sure they have a proper balance of ministry, family time and rest. The same is true for key volunteers (I’m one of those). When I’ve legitimately said I can’t do something, I’m heard and not told that I’m a slacker.
Linn at 8:11 pm—
It sounds a lot like a totalitarian dictatorship.
I left all that crapola many years ago, and it took awhile to learn to breathe again.
It was a long time ago (90s), but I had no idea how crazy it was until I left, mostly for financial reasons. I could almost consider my work with the Spanish ministry at my church as a part-time job, except there is a realization that people get sick, need down time, etc. And, there is help! If a ministry idea doesn’t launch, there is encouragement instead of criticism. I really like what God allows me to do (as I am currently working on translating three slide sets for the upcoming women’s conference, which I will also be translating “en vivo”-live). I love and thrive on my my church’s approach to ministry.
I can only speak for myself but the pace and pressure I felt was self imposed. I wrongly felt the people came because of me. And related to that, i felt people would leave the church if I wasn’t always busy. I felt it was my job to involve myself in everyone’s problems and that i needed to visit every sick person in the hospital. I also felt the pressure to have answers to every issue that arose.
I too enjoyed my years in ministry but near the end, for my own sanity I delegated a lot and ironically, people didn’t leave and i enjoyed my last 5 years as a pastor.
As they say i wish i knew then what i know now
I’m really good at creating my own crazy, too. But when I was suddenly a step-in mom to little people, I prayerfully realized that I had to live up to the kid time expectations that I always talked to my students’ parents about. It wasn’t an easy transition for me, but Auntie at home on Saturday morning to watch a soccer game, even if Grandma could take them, meant a lot to them, as did nightly stories, fun in the bathtub, and reviewing flashcards. I was very responsible about work/ministry, but I knew there had to be a “no” button. The interesting thing, which my colleagues began to notice, was I actually had better results because I wasn’t always with them all the time, trying to create some kind of artificial feeling of fellowship. I still push hard, but I’m also known for not starting anything until noon on Saturday because I’m spending some regrouping time at home-and watching old Looney Toons!